The Visitor (McCarthey, 2008)


Liberal guilt? I’d argue just plain human guilt, since Richard Jenkins’ character in The Visitor is never given a political affiliation or overly emotional monologues. I’m not sure teaching at a University and recognizing the crumbling of human rights outside of your own selfishness qualify a character as “Liberal”,  just out of touch with reality. But I do agree with the critical minority (those dissenting against this otherwise universally loved film) about The Visitor in one respect, namely it’s sometimes shameless use of symbolism, in particular the way the American flag becomes a framing object. During every emotional scene, director Tom McCarthey fills his mise-en-scene with overt and pandering post 9/11 imagery, which ends up minimizing some of the film’s most powerful moments of silence and grieving. However, the film provides a daring, rhythmic final sequence which highlights Jenkins’ great performance.

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